To continue my economic discussion, I have been thinking a lot about SWG's economy. I've played it in all three of its iterations (pre-CU, CU, and NGE), and am currently playing it again. It is enjoyable enough, and I would rather be playing FFXI, but its registration system continues to give me headaches, and I am debating buying it for xbox to try one of the work arounds that have been offered to me. But enough about that.
Pre-CU, SWG's economy was what you might consider small. A million credits was a lot of money (what a million gold is to the current WoW economy, if you will), and few players claimed that they had such. There was also little or no credit selling, which was an interesting phenomenon. After the CU, inflation started, and in a bad way. Many reasons for this, which I will delve into later. NGE made the whole thing worse. The question is: Why?
Pre-CU had a balanced economic situation. Most items were player made, using resources that were player harvested (and had to be actively sought), money drops off of mobs were very low, and mission terminals were a primary source of income, and even then the income was rather low. So there was, overall, a very low amount of credits enterring the system. However, there were also many drains on these credits, leading to a very small net credit gain. Houses, factories, harvesters, skill training, vehicle repair...all of these things took credits. Also, all of your equipment had a durability rating, and slowly decayed. Sure you might spend 10,000 credits on an awesome gun, but you'll have to keep putting money into it (in the form of crafted weapon repair kits and the like) or it will become useless. I remember having a wall of carbines that I had used to level my character, most in poor durability, on display. I felt connected to all of them.
Basically, everything you spent credits on was a drain in itself, as those credits went to crafters, who spent credits on maintaining harvesters to gather resources to make your items (and on vendors, vendor fees, shops, etc etc etc). Which, oddly enough, works rather well as a system. Even rare loot drops used in crafting didn't become too expensive, and you could always barter with a crafter for materials they needed. If you had krayt tissues or whatever, you could ask a crafter, for a fee of course, to make you an item with them. Everyone would be happy.
To give you an idea of pricing at this time, a full set of doctor buffs was 10k credits and lasted about 2 hours. A single "solo group" mission on dantoine netted about the same, and took maybe 10 minutes. Nobody I knew who ran those missions became rich, but they did enough to buy what they wanted.
So what happened? CU allowd people to respec, removing a lot of training costs. Eventually they removed decay all together and that screwed over the economy. Now if you buy an awesome gun, you will have it forever...it will cost a ridiculous amount, maybe millions of credits, but you will have it forever. I wish the old system was back.